Stephen Crippen Therapy

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Marathon Couples Therapy – it’s the best!

Maybe it’s the name. “Marathon.” That word can freak people out. I’m thinking about other ways to label this form of therapy, but for now, let’s go with “marathon,” and I’ll just ask you to hang in there with me on this. It can be a powerful, profoundly helpful experience for a couple.

Here’s how it’s done: three days of therapy, five hours a day, for a total of 15 hours. We begin at 10:30 each day, take a lunch break at 1:00, and are done at 4:30. Ideally you make an additional investment of renting a hotel room so that you can truly get away from your lives for this time. (You will be tired! And it’s good to stay focused on your relationship, to keep it front and center.)

You can expect to make progress, relapse, enjoy a powerful breakthrough, relapse again, and so on. By day three, you will start to integrate our work, and you’ll finish up with a very clear idea of what you want to do, how you want to relate, and what your future holds as a couple. You will have specific “takeaways,” including both practical tools and deeper insights. You will go home feeling like you truly worked on—and greatly improved—your relationship.

Of course, there are no hard and fast guarantees. And there will be moments in the marathon when you feel hopeless. But like actual (running) marathons, the whole experience can end in an exhilarating finish.

Most people, when they contemplate couples counseling, imagine a half dozen or more sessions spread out over weeks or months. They try to fit the sessions into their busy lives, and the biggest barriers to success are low intensity, multiple distractions, and the sense that each time we meet, we have to “start the engine cold” once again. I make that format helpful, too, and pay close attention to the need to keep intensity high and generate strong momentum. But in the marathon, we don’t have to worry about that. We can go deep, and stay there until we make real progress … all in one weekend.

The cost? I charge $1800 for the 15-hour session, plus $29 for an online assessment that you can take beforehand. That works out to $120/hour, which is my standard fee in traditional couples therapy.

Lots of people find the idea of marathon couples therapy daunting, but I encourage you to think about it—and feel about it—for a while, and take it seriously as a real option for your relationship. Have you ever been to a couples weekend or pre-marital workshop? This is like that, except it is all for you. No classroom filled with other couples. No general lectures or activities that everyone learns together. Just you two. Imagine how healthy and invigorating this could be for your relationship!


The author, age 17, running in Cross Country.


P.S. I’m training for a half marathon this spring (the running kind). Since my job has me sitting down all day, it’s my way to stay fit, clear my mind, and build spiritual strength. 🙂


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Stephen Crippen
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